Glossostigma Elatinoides Care: Ultimate Guide

Glossostigma Elatinoides is a popular carpeting plant among aquascape enthusiasts. Originating from New Zealand, this short plant is ideal for foreground use in aquariums. Its tiny oblong leafs cluster along thin stalks which bunch together to provide solid covering across the aquarium substrate. With the right preparation, it can cover your tank with a thick carpet of bright green growth. While visually impressive, it isn’t the easiest carpeting plant to grow. If you’re planning on adding this plant to your tank, it is important to understand their specific requirements.

Glossostigma Elatinoides Care

Glossostigma Elatinoides can be a difficult aquarium plant to properly care for. The most desirable growth pattern is a short, thick carpet, and this can only be achieved with bright lighting. In dim light, the plant’s stems will lengthen in an attempt to get closer to the light source. To much light can also increase algae growth. This can be held in check with CO2 injection and algae-eating tank inhabitants such as Amano Shrimp. CO2 isn’t just useful for reducing algae, it’s also necessary for this plant’s growth. While some hobbyists report that increasing light intensity can reduce the need for CO2, that still leaves the problem of algae growth. Because of this, it’s best to plan for CO2 injection when adding this plant to your aquarium. If you are looking for a more trouble-free carpeting plant with lower light requirements, you might be interested in the Monte Carlo Plant. This alternative has a similar appearance and doesn’t have the difficult care needs of Glossostigma Elatinoides.

Glossostigma Elatinoides
Glossostigma Elatinoides

Are Glossostigma Elatinoides easy to grow?

Glossostigma Elatinoides is difficult to grow and is best suited to experienced aquascape hobbyists with high tech tank setups. This plant needs bright lighting, CO2 injection, and added fertilizer to keep it healthy and support its bright green coloration.

Lighting Requirement

Glossostigma Elatinoides needs bright light to grow; lack of enough light is a major reason this plant fails in many aquariums. While this plant may not die in low light, the leafs can extend upwards to the light source and ruin the low carpeting effect most hobbyists are looking for. High intensity LED grow lights are the best choice. Make sure you get a full spectrum LED light as this has the proper mix of light wavelengths for best plant growth. Many also have brightness controls and timers. Avoid including duckweed or other floating plants in your tank as these can block out light from lower plants including Glossostigma Elatinoides.


Glossostigma Elatinoides can tolerate temperatures between 72° and 82° F. This plant can live and thrive at temperatures found in most freshwater aquariums.

Water pH

Glossostigma Elatinoides needs soft and slightly acidic water with a pH between 5 and 7. The best nutrient rich aquarium growing soils, such as ADA Aquasoil, will buffer acidity while also providing needed nutrition. Avoid any soils which include coral or aragonite sand because these can dissolve over time and increase water alkalinity. Because this plant usually requires CO2 injection, you’ll need to take extra care to ensure water pH stays within a healthy range. CO2 injection can lower pH which is ideal for this plant, but can make your aquarium’s water too acidic for some fish species. The best fish to pair with this plant should have a high tolerance for acidic water.

Growth Rate

Glossostigma Elatinoides can be a fast growing plant when given enough light. Growing emersed, it can spread across the bottom of a tank in weeks. Submerged, growth slows considerably even with added CO2. Hobbyists who need this plant to grow fast should consider using an emersed “dry start” in their aquariums.

Glossostigma Elatinoides
Glossostigma Elatinoides

Growth Height

With enough light, Glossostigma Elatinoides can produce a short, thick carpet across your tank around an inch in height. Under low light, stems tend to lengthen in search of brighter light. Most hobbyists want this plant to grow short and thick; the best way to get this look is by using bright lighting. If this plant grows too much beyond an inch in height, this is a sure sign you need to increase your lighting intensity.

CO2 Requirement

For best growth, Glossostigma Elatinoides needs CO2 injection. While this can benefit many aquarium plants, it’s particularly important for getting Glossostigma Elatinoides to form a thick, bright green carpet across substrate. This plant also needs high intensity lighting, and this can encourage algae growth. Added CO2 can help decrease algae, which gives a second reason to consider injection when setting up a tank for this species. It’s important to monitor your water pH and CO2 levels as CO2 injection can increase acidity, lowering pH, and can also displace oxygen. CO2 drop checkers are available which can give you a rough idea of how much dissolved CO2 your tank’s water contains. Too low and growth will be slow, with dimmer green coloration. Too high and oxygen can be displaced causing fish to suffocate. If you see fish staying near upper tank levels trying to catch a breath, this signals that your CO2 levels are too high and you need to make adjustments.

If you have some money to spend, you can buy electronic units which will monitor CO2 concentration and adjust CO2 flow automatically. These units do cost more than a simple drop checker, but can help ensure your tank’s water keeps a steady concentration of dissolved CO2. Automatic CO2 systems can also monitor pH and help to keep both these parameters steady. These automatic systems are a good match for Glossostigma Elatinoides, as this plant needs high CO2 concentration and it’s easy to add too much when adjusting manually. Adding too much CO2 needs to be avoided because it can suffocate or injure your fish.

Glossostigma Elatinoides Propagation

Glossostigma Elatinoides spreads easily, and bunches can be separated and placed in new growing locations. On the internet you can find sellers offering “Glossostigma Elatinoides seeds,” but these are unlikely to be actual Glossostigma Elatinoides. Most reputable vendors sell this plant as tissue cultures, or in bunches on a mud mat. Growing from tissue cultures is the preferred way to start this plant in aquariums. These tissue cultures are sterile clones guaranteed to be free from diseases and pests. Another benefit to tissue cultures is they start short and small which is the growth pattern most hobbyists want.

It’s easier to grow and propagate Glossostigma Elatinoides emersed. Growing emersed lets more light reach foliage and gives the plant access to atmospheric CO2. Both of these factors will lead to much faster and stronger growth. Most plant suppliers who aren’t producing tissue cultures will use emersed growing to get more and faster plant growth.

Can you dry start Glossostigma Elatinoides

Glossostigma Elatinoides grows well with a dry start, and this is the preferred method when starting this plant in a new aquarium. A dry start is when plants are placed and grown emersed. When roots are kept moist and leafs have access to open air, Glossostigma Elatinoides grows and spreads rapidly. A dry start can result in a solid carpet in a matter of weeks. Because this plant has such delicate roots, they need to spend some time growing emersed so they won’t float away after the tank is filled with water. When dry starting, it’s important to keep soil moist with clear plastic wrap covering the tank, and long periods of high intensity light. A couple of times a day, this plastic is pulled back to allow plants to get fresh air and be moistened with a spray bottle. Once the desired level of cover is achieved, the aquarium can be flooded for submerged growth.

Can Glossostigma Elatinoides grow in gravel?

Glossostigma Elatinoides needs lots of nutrients and won’t grow in plain gravel. An aquarium plant growing soil such as ADA Aquasoil should be used as substrate. Not only is nutrient-rich growing substrate a requirement, additional fertilizer is usually needed. This plant benefits from liquid fertilizers which contain extra potassium, iron and trace minerals. Without this, growth will be hampered and leafs can turn yellow.

Where can I find Glossostigma Elatinoides for sale?

Glossostigma Elatinoides is available from online sources and many local fish stores. Often sold as tissue cultures, it can also be sold growing on mud mats. Prices for tissue cultures range between $8 USD and $20 USD depending on size of pot. Growing from tissue cultures is the most popular way to start this plant in most aquariums. This soil-free growing method results in sterile plants guaranteed to be free from diseases and pests.

Glossostigma Elatinoides vs Monte Carlo Plant

Glossostigma Elatinoides and Monte Carlo Plant are both carpeting plants popular with aquarium aquascape hobbyists. Both have delicate roots systems, but Monte Carlo’s are the most fine and may have difficulty staying anchored in substrate. The big advantage to Monte Carlo is its hardiness: unlike Glossostigma Elatinoides, it doesn’t need CO2 injection and bright lighting to grow well.